Archive for the ‘United States’ Category

by The Spark

September 20 marked one year since Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico. President Trump referred back to that storm, and the death count on the island, when he was warning people in North and South Carolina to flee Hurricane Florence.

He said that the death count in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria – reported in recent studies to be over 3,000 people – was fake.

Trump defiantly excluded any number larger than the handful originally reported, including all the people who died after the storm as a result of the failure of the US government, backed by Wall Street, to provide the massive federal emergency aid required to stop the death toll from rising.

Puerto Rico is an island about the size of Connecticut with a population of about 3 million people. It is a territory of the US, acquired through US military occupation. While citizens of the US, Puerto Ricans have no representatives in Congress. Since the US invasion, the island has been used by U.S. corporations as a source of cheap labor.

Working class people have a far lower standard of living there than in any state in the US. The poverty imposed on the Puerto Rican population by US imperialism means that (more…)

Advertisements

The last week of August marked the 50th anniversary of the (in)famous 1968 Democratic Party convention in Chicago.  Thousands of people turned up outside the convention to protest the war being waged by the United States, via a Democratic Party administration, on the people of Vietnam.  The Democratic Party mayor of Chicago, Richard Daley, turned his cops on the protesters, hundreds of whom were injured in police assaults.  The Illinois National Guard was also turned out, to supplement the armed cops.  This party convention was yet more proof, if any was needed, that the Democratic Party is no vehicle for progressive change in the United States, any more than the Labour Party is in New Zealand (or Britain or Australia).

by The Spark

In 1968, the Democratic Party met in Convention in Chicago to nominate its presidential candidate. This is the Convention that has gone down in history – in the words of Hodding Carter, one of its participants – as the work of “a party that had lost its mind.”

For most people who still remember, the 1968 Convention is associated with the 14-minute live telecast from the streets of Chicago, showing police clubbing and viciously kicking unarmed demonstrators, people who had come to protest the U.S. war on Viet Nam and the Democrats who were carrying it out. Some of those people, bloody on the ground, were shown yelling, “the whole world is watching.”

Or people remember from inside the Convention, Chicago’s mayor, Richard Daley, yelling “fuck you” to Senator Abraham Ribicoff from Connecticut, who had criticized “Boss Daley’s” cops.

In fact, the 1968 Democratic convention should go down in history as the symbol of the inability of the Democratic Party to respond to the deep problems of this country – even at the very moment when social forces were urgently pushing those problems forward.

A Country on Fire

Opposition inside this country to the U.S. war on Viet Nam had become so strong that (more…)

by The Spark

Prisoners in at least 17 states are on strike, protesting the severely inhumane conditions in prisons. Three hundred inmates in Nova Scotia, Canada have also joined the strike. The strike began on August 21, the anniversary of the killing of George Jackson by prison guards in Soledad, California, in 1971, and is scheduled to run until September 9, the anniversary of the Attica prison rebellion in New York that same year.

The strike is taking place in kitchens, laundries, prison grounds – anywhere prisoners do work. By refusing to work, the strikers are trying to draw attention to the dire problems they face every day: the extremely low pay they get, the overcrowding, the treatment of inmates by guards and prison officials. But strikers’ demands also include greater access to rehabilitation and education, and changes in sentencing laws.

Prisoners are demanding (more…)

Kim Moody, On New Terrain: how capital reshaped the battleground of class war, Chicago, Haymarket Press, 2017, US$18; reviewed by Guy Miller

On November 8, 1954, US (Republican Party) President Dwight Eisenhower wrote:

“Should any political party attempt to abolish Social Security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. . . their numbers are negligible, and they are stupid.”

On August 3, 2018, the headline on the New York Times front page blared: “The Downside of Apple’s $1 Trillion Valuation: Income Inequality May Grow as Mega-Firms Dominate Economy.”

How we got from November, 1954 to August, 2018 is the story Kim Moody’s book, On New Terrain, tells well, and in great detail.

The Old Terrain

After being discharged from the U.S. Army, I entered the blue-collar work force in late 1967.  My fellow workers and I started with the basic assumption that decent-paying jobs were our birthright.  We also believed that our standard of living would always be on an unending upward trajectory.

Jobs were plentiful. Quit your job during the lunch hour and there was a chance you would have a new one that afternoon. We were a mixed demographic of Vietnam era veterans, young black nationalists,  counter culture youth, and older workers with the victories of the rise of the CIO still  imprinted in our memory banks.

Fifteen-minute coffee breaks routinely stretched to 25 minutes, a half-hour lunch meant 45 minutes away from work.  Assembly line moving too fast?  Simple solution: stop it by any means necessary.  Two-day weekends often ballooned into three days, thanks to the “bridge”, that is, calling off work on Fridays or Mondays.  With or without a union, we called the shots, or at least many of them.  It was almost too good to last, and it didn’t.

Shifting Terrain

As the war in Vietnam began to wind down, the American capitalist class saw itself besieged on several fronts: (more…)

by The Spark

Every day, Trump hogs the spot light.  He uses summits to attack US allies, like Canada and NATO.  He takes aim at women leaders, insulting British prime minister Theresa May and German chancellor Angela Merkel.  He walks in front of the elderly Queen of England, almost tripping her up.

Then he rubs it in.  He pretends to be best buddies with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

The news media goes crazy.  “This is not a normal president” and “We’ve never had a president like this before,” they say.

That’s music to Trump’s ears.  He is playing a game to keep his base behind him.  He doesn’t mind shocking the others to do that.  It reinforces his play to look ‘tough’.

Trump poses as the champion of the (more…)

Dunedin: Otago Socialist Society presents
Marx’s theory of capitalist crisis

Why is capitalism plagued by regular economic crises? Can capitalism avoid these crises or are they inherent in the system? What did Marx see as the fundamental cause of these crises, regardless of whether they appear first in the ‘real’ economy or the financial sector? In particular, what is ‘the law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall’? What political conclusions follow from Marx’s crisis theory?

Speaker: Philip Ferguson
6pm, Monday, July 30
McNab Room,
3rd floor, central city library,
Moray Place, Dunedin

 

Christchurch: Canterbury Socialist Society presents
Harlan County USA

This award-winning film – it even won an academy award! – documents a major struggle between coal miners in Harlan County (Kentucky) and coal bosses in the 1970s.  These workers provide an inspiring example of how to fight.

7.30pm, Tuesday, August 7
The Space Academy,
371 St Asaph Street, Christchurch

by Daphna Whitmore

Hillary the woman politician and smasher of glass ceilings breezed into Auckland this week. The media coverage has ranged from gushy snippets on baby boutique shopping and gift exchanges with the pregnant Prime Minister to shallow takes on not seeing the real Clinton. That comes after a week of Royal Baby story headlines, so no surprises from the mainstream media.

v3-CLINTON-Ardern-1120

Jacinda Ardern and Hillary Clinton swapped baby gifts. No mention of troops in Iraq?

No surprises either from the three thousand people who paid good money to hear Clinton speak at what was essentially a book launch.  While they were lapping up the cliches about daring to compete and tweeting “feeling really inspired”, none seemed to reflect on Clinton’s actual record.

Not Clinton the hard done by faux feminist, but the establishment leader in the US imperialist-militarist system. Where was the commentary beyond children’s books and buzzy bees? Has Hillary the hawk, the supporter of US military adventures in Haiti, Bosnia and Kosovo been forgotten? How about the Hillary Clinton who voted in favour of the invasion of Iraq in 2002, and promoted the weapons of mass destruction propaganda? Even later by 2007, when the whole world knew no such weapons were ever found Clinton supported continuing the war. “We cannot lose sight of our very real strategic national interests in this region” she said. (more…)